Philip is an orphan, and has spent most of his life suffering the cruelties of the workhouse. So when he learns he has an uncle--and not just any uncle, but a rich uncle, captain of his own ship--he sets off for New Orleans to find him.
Find him he does, and when Uncle offers him the position of surgeon's mate on his ship, the Formidable, Philip couldn't be happier. At last, he's found his family! But little does he know the purpose of the journey he's about to embark on: Uncle is a slave trader, and the ship is bound for Africa to collect their cargo.
Caught between his lifelong desire for a family and the promise of a better life, and the shocking brutality he witnesses aboard the Formidable, Philip must open his eyes and decide for himself the true meaning of family, freedom, and humanity.